Politics & the Nation
  • Most influential Indians
    • Manmohan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Amartya Sen, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, P Namperumalswamy, Sanjit ‘Bunker' Roy and Chetan Bhagat. These seven figure in TIME magazine's latest list of The 100 Most Influential People In The World, along with four from China.
    • Manmohan has been listed in the 25-strong ‘leaders' category, along with three other PMs (Japan's Hatoyama, Palestine's Fayyad and Turkey's Erdogan) and three presidents (Brazil's Lula da Silva, the UAE's Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Barack Obama).
    • ‘Bunker' Roy has joined Amartya Sen in the 25-strong ‘thinkers' category.
    • Chetan Bhagat has made it to the 25-strong ‘artists' category.
    • And Tendulkar, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Namperumalswamy figure among the 25 ‘heroes'.
    • That's just seven people from a country that accounts for 17% of the world's population!!
    • To understand why some of them are figuring in the list and the work they do, you should read this piece.
Finance & Economy
  • Industrial production slows down
    • Industrial production growth rate slowed in March as higher interest rates and a partial stimulus rollback began to bite, possibly reducing the urgency to raise policy rates to control inflation.
    • The 13.5% growth in March also gave hopes to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that economic growth rate this year could surpass the average expectation of 8.5% and that price rise could ease in the months ahead. In February, industrial output climbed 15.1%.
  • NPS gives 12% average return in first year
    • THE New Pension Scheme for private citizens has generated an average return of 12% in the first year of its operations, outperforming most other long-term saving schemes such as the Employees’ Provident Fund and term deposits.
    • Part of the reason why NPS has been able to give a high return is because it can invest up to 50% of its corpus in equities. And its fund management fees is as low as 0.0009% a year.
    • The year-old scheme for unorganised workers has a corpus of just Rs 10 crore with 6,000 subscribers as compared with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) which has over 4.5 crore subscribers with a corpus of over Rs 2,62,000 crore as on March 2009.
    • The new pension scheme corpus is equally divided amongst the six fund managers including SBI Pension Funds, UTI Retirement Solutions, IDFC Pension Funds, ICICI Prudential Pension Funds, Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund and Reliance Capital Pension Fund.
  • Tax-saving deposit scheme to fund loans to students, educational institutions
    • The government is drawing up a tax saving bank deposit scheme that will raise funds for cheap loans to educational institutions and students aspiring to become doctors, engineers, fashion designers and software engineers.
    • Investments in deposits under the proposed First Education Savings Scheme (FESS) will be eligible for tax exemption similar to the public provident fund or life insurance premium. Savings under the scheme will be collected by commercial banks and transferred to the proposed National Education Finance Corporation (NEFC) for refinancing educational loans at concessional rates. Banks will transfer deposits under the scheme every month and get a commission for their services.
    • The total fund requirement for secondary and higher education is estimated at around Rs 10,94,000 crore by 2020. The ministry expects the corporation to meet a little more than onefourth this requirement.
    • NEFC will be set up with an initial equity capital of Rs 5,500 crore. The ministry proposes to infuse Rs 3,000-crore equity capital in the company every year with the aim of generating Rs 35,500 crore by 2020.
  • Dynamic poverty list to help target aid
    • The new BPL census will have a big automatic inclusion and exclusion component, which is expected to make the list more credible, addressing the allegation that targeted benefits for the poor are cornered by the undeserving.
    • A credible BPL census will be key to the implementation of the food security act being finalised by the government. While the new poverty lines suggested by the committee headed by S D Tendulkar will give the cut-off number of the poor who will be entitled to subsidised food, the census would identify those poor.
    • The rural development ministry and the Planning Commission have decided to accept NC Saxena panel’s recommendations of a rank-based system including automatic inclusion and exclusion of poor families while running pilots in all states in the country.
  • David Cameron is British PM
    • David Cameron took charge as the head of Britain’s first coalition government since World War II on Wednesday, inheriting a fragile economy weighed down by one of the highest deficits across Europe, but nevertheless promising a new “grown up” era in UK politics.
    • Mr Cameron’s centre-right Conservative Party has stitched up an unlikely coalition with the left-leaning Liberal Democrats, an unusual marriage destined to be repeatedly tested in the months ahead on issues ranging from spending cuts to immigration curbs to bankers’ bonuses.
  • Why should Greece be rescued?
    • Take a look at the reasoning given by Prof. T.T. Ram Mohan in today's op-ed. A must read. Hence not giving any excerpts.